Nuclear Nightmare

June 23, 2009


Nuclear Nightmare


Nuclear Proliferation: Al-Qaida says it will use Pakistan’s nuclear weapons against the U.S. if it ever gets the chance. We’re not surprised. Nor would we be surprised if it eventually got the opportunity.

Read More: Military & Defense

“God willing, the (Pakistani) nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Americans, and the mujahedeen would take them and use them against the Americans.” So says Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al-Qaida’s top commander in Afghanistan, where the terror group has found a friend and ally in the Taliban.

If you think 9/11 was bad, just wait until al-Qaida gets a nuke, which is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Based both in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s untamed northwest frontier, al-Qaida in April launched a major offensive into Pakistan’s Swat Valley, engaging in fierce fighting with Pakistani army forces.

Swat is just 60 miles from Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad. If al-Qaida beats the Pakistan army in Swat, what will keep it from marching on Islamabad and gaining control of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal — said to number as many as 55 warheads? If you said Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, guess again. It’s riddled with fundamentalist al-Qaida sympathizers.

If this isn’t frightening enough, the U.S. stands under direct threat of possible attack by a nuclear power — North Korea. That country, in the destabilizing throes of a leadership change, warns it will launch a missile on July 4 toward Hawaii — even as the U.S. shadows a North Korean ship containing nuclear contraband.

Meanwhile, the world is rightly riveted on Iran’s massive anti-government protests. But even if Iran’s corrupt religious regime falls, the potential threat of a nuclear Iran remains. Once Iran builds a weapon, which now seems certain, its traditional enemies in the region — including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Syria, among others — will want to do the same.

This calls for leadership — the kind only the U.S. can supply. Unfortunately, the U.S. has followed a laissez-faire policy on nuclear weapons, abdicating its leadership to the entirely inept and corrupt U.N.

With the U.S. happy merely to talk, North Korea, al-Qaida and most seriously, Iran, are collectively thumbing their noses at us.

Pakistan’s recent history shows where Iran may be headed.

Despite warnings from the U.S. and U.N. in the 1990s, Pakistan acquired nuclear know-how and designs from China and the former USSR. And it bought dual-use technology from Western Europe.

A.Q. Khan, the German-educated metallurgist who served as scientific midwife to Pakistan’s bomb, then resold Pakistan’s nuclear technology on the global black market to bad apples such as Iran, Libya and North Korea.

That’s how proliferation starts. If one country gets a bomb, others want one too — and the race begins. Those who think the U.S. will be safer if it steps aside and lets countries pursue nuclear weapons are sadly mistaken.

Does anyone doubt that Pakistan — a country filled with fundamentalists like the ones who rule Iran — will help a fellow Islamic country get the bomb, as it did North Korea? Or that once Iran gets a bomb, it will make it available to terrorist clients such as Hamas, Hezbollah or even al-Qaida? We sure don’t.

Such proliferation poses a clear and present danger to the West. Yet, the U.S. seems unwilling to go beyond jawboning. Result: North Korea is busy making its nuclear threat real, while Iran is working frantically on a bomb of its own.

Al-Qaida’s threat brings us that much closer to the day when a nuclear device is exploded in a U.S. or European city because we’ve decided that talk — not action — is the way to respond.

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